Charles Leclerc swept to pole position for the fourth race in a row after dominating qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix on Saturday in Sochi, beating Lewis Hamilton.

Leclerc topped the final practice session at the Sochi Autodrom to enter qualifying with plenty of momentum, which he managed to convert into pole position at the end of Q3.

Leclerc recorded a best lap time of 1m31.628s to take pole by four-tenths of a second ahead of Hamilton, who split the Ferrari drivers with his final Q3 run for Mercedes.

The result sees Leclerc become the first Ferrari driver to take four consecutive pole positions since Michael Schumacher in 2001, and is his sixth pole of the year.

Sebastian Vettel was only able to take third on the grid after a scrappy final lap cost him a place to Hamilton. It also marked his ninth consecutive qualifying defeat to Leclerc.

Max Verstappen qualified fourth for Red Bull, nine-tenths of a second off Leclerc’s pole time, but will drop back to P9 as a result of a grid penalty for an engine change.

Valtteri Bottas could only take fifth on the grid in Sochi for Mercedes after a mistake forced him to abandon his final Q3 run, while Carlos Sainz managed to top the midfield in sixth for McLaren.

Nico Hulkenberg pipped Lando Norris to seventh by just 0.012s, with the pair being followed by Romain Grosjean in ninth for Haas. Daniel Ricciardo completed the top 10 for Renault.

Pierre Gasly was the first casualty of a close fight in the midfield through Q2, missing out on a top-10 grid slot by half a tenth of a second as he qualified 11th for Toro Rosso. The Frenchman will drop five places on the grid for Sunday as a result of an engine change penalty.

Sergio Perez took 12th for Racing Point ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi, while Kevin Magnussen and Lance Stroll both paid the price for mistakes on their final laps in Q2, leaving them P14 and P15 respectively.

Kimi Raikkonen suffered his first Q1 exit since Canada after being bumped out of qualifying by Alfa Romeo teammate Giovinazzi, finishing 16th ahead of the Williams pair of George Russell and Robert Kubica in 17th and 18th respectively.

Alexander Albon made the first major mistake in Red Bull colours after losing the rear of his car coming through Turn 13 in Q1, causing him to crash into the wall and bring out a red flag. Albon was yet to set a representative time in the session, leaving him P19 in the final classification.

Toro Rosso opted not to field Daniil Kvyat in qualifying after being forced into an engine change following an issue in final practice. The Russian was due to start his home race from the back of the grid regardless, having already received a penalty for power unit changes earlier in the weekend.

The Russian Grand prix begins at 1410 local time on Sunday (1210 BST).



Loading Comments...